Whether you're the type of family that goes all-out, or tends toward activities that are all-in, there's no shortage of things to do in NJ and beyond this December. From lights to shows to crafts to Santa sightings, here are our top must-dos that are sure to brighten the season.
Sweeten the season at a celebration of Gingerbread houses: Head down Gingerbread Blvd in NYC’s Madison Square Park where life-sized gingerbread homes are open for tours of their marshmallow snowmen and tree decorating (through December 18th), or visit Gingerbread Lane at the NY Hall of Science to ogle the World’s Largest Gingerbread Village and make their own creations in their daily workshops (through January 15th). Closer to home, check out Morristown’s Gingerbread Wonderland, the 25-year tradition that displays hundreds of edible structures (through December 11th).
Check out a Holiday Train Show: Grab your train-obsessed tot and visit the Ramapo Valley Railroad Holiday Train Show or the Mahwah Museum. Or take a day and head to NYC to view Grand Central’s 15th annual Train Show or the the gorgeous NYBG Holiday Train show with its festive design accompanied by “mini” NYC landmark replicas.
Dedicate your day to your Tween: Bust boredom for those mini fashionistas by letting them customize their own trendy togs, pouches and jewels at Me.n.u. boutique on the UES with patches and bling (call ahead for pricing/reservations, 1042 Lexington, 646-370-6449), then head down to the new Blacktap Midtown for crazy shakes that they’ll devour ‘for the gram’.
Let them Explore: Grab tix to NYC’s super-fun new interactive Pip’s Island (through January 2016), where your child can become a real life explorer in a fantasy world and then finish up with yummy snacks and gifts for the road.
Ice Ice Baby: Get into the holiday spirit at Fairfield NJ’s Christmas Ice Caverns or wait until the end of the month to bundle up and road trip it to visit the jaw dropping Ice Castle in New Hampshire.
Hit the Winter Villages: Shop til you drop and snag last minute gifts at these fun winter villages with new locations added closer to home. We love NYC’s Bryant Park Market, Union Square Market and Columbus Circle Winter Market.
See Santa (in every way possible): Whether you’re looking to enjoy a formal tea, brunch or lunch with Eloise and the man of the month or have a kid looking to join Santa’s flight crew, there are endless ways to visit Santa this month.
See a Show: No need to head to NYC to keep them engaged and in their seats. Between Laurie Berkner’s Holiday Sing-A-Long at Bergen PAC (Sunday, December 11th), WP Presents A Very Electric Christmas (Saturday, December 17th) and Kaplen JCC on the Palisades’ Family Chanukah Concert (Sunday, December 18th) you’ll have them captivated (and warm) for hours of family fun.
Go Tropical: The Butterfly Conservatory at the American Museum of Natural History is back and worth the trip if you’ve never been (and even if you have!). Think thousands of gorgeous butterflies in every shape and color that will delight even the youngest of kids (through May 2017).
Peep Holiday Lights: If you’re into the homegrown, over-the-top light displays (the kind that keeps the neighbors up at night) Bergen County’s Lights on Evergreen in Demarest is an easy driveby when you’re en route with the kiddos. For an all evening event, pack a thermos of cocoa and head to Turtle Back Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular or the Skylands Stadium Christmas Light Show.